‘There should be a teacher specifically for the arts in every school’
Mum of three Geraldine Galligan from Letterkenny, Co Donegal, feels strongly about the benefits the arts has had both on her children and her pupils.
“I was always one of those mammies who pulled the plug and got the children outside or interested in the arts or sport instead. I was strict about screen time too, and it’s something we do a lot of work around in school,” says Geraldine, a vice principal at Glenswilly National School.
Both Geraldine and her husband are involved in amateur dramatics and, growing up, their children Amy Kate, Cormac and Eve, would often have accompanied them to rehearsals, something Geraldine feels helped whet their appetite for performance. Amy Kate is currently studying for her final year of a dance degree, while both other children take a keen interest in creative writing and drama.
“Primarily I think it brings them contentment, which in turn boosts self-esteem,” explains Geraldine. “It’s also brilliant for their concentration. If you’ve done an hour of homework and you went out and did your music class or your drama, you could come back and do another hour.
“I see the benefits of the arts in the school too,” she adds. “Particularly with children with emotional or behavioural difficulties. In my opinion, there should be a teacher on the ground whose sole proviso is the arts, because in the arts you end up dealing with an awful lot of emotional stuff. It’s almost like counselling. It really works.”
Geraldine’s daughter, Eve, 11, says: “I remember everyone in my family reading books to me when I was little. I still like reading now, as well as writing stories and drawing pictures, but my favourite thing of all is acting.”